ALCHEMY: A SERIALIZED STORY BY GEORGE KAPLAN – PART THREE

premiere night copy 2A serialized story by, George Kaplan

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Our working relationship was excellent, we were both extremely verbal, often acerbic people with an underlying sensitivity; even if in Grace Mark’s case you might have to drill under the arctic tundra to find it – a failing she freely admitted with a teasing pursing of her slim-lipped but enticing mouth and a glittering diamond-like gaze. Often I’d be tapping at my keyboard with her soft weight leaning against my chair while she chattered about the absurdities she’d witnessed over her twenty-two years in the industry, I would try to ignore her proximity while willing my rebellious phallus not to become aroused (almost always failing, absurdly enough, which left me feeling like a some ridiculous ever-engorged satyr) and somehow manage to make a passably deadpan comment which would send her into gales of frankly dirty laughter, which didn’t do my poor panting libido much good, as I think you already guessed.

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Sometimes, she would become more serious and talk about her beloved mother, the playwright Alice Hayle-Mark, who’d died unexpectedly when she was thirty, or about her father, Allen Mark, a painter, theatre director, and loveable – by her account – scoundrel who had recently defeated bowel cancer and was busy designing his own home which he had taken to calling, for no readily apparent reason, the Whorehouse, something that Grace Mark found hilarious. I enjoyed this weird closeness and, as odd and frustrated as it made me feel, I loved those times when she leaned against me as I sat in my chair, I adored the feeling of her hair against my cheek, the sound of her voice, the unrepeatable stories of lubricious industry goings-on, I loved her skillfully-applied scent and, indeed, her faint yet intoxicating woman-smell. I loved all of this, even if the Feeling beneath these feelings gave me a form of spiritual vertigo…but my heart, and to be crude (and you must forgive this honesty, dear reader) my poor mindless cock did not.

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I couldn’t conceive of any reason why Grace Mark would derive such pleasure from teasing me. “Surely, it couldn’t be about “power?”, I asked myself. But no, while she was certainly capable of delightedly toying with, then sardonically spurning the legions of good-looking, self-adoring male egotists in the industry, those supreme narcissists who could perceive but dimly the concept that not all women were guaranteed to fall to their feet swooning at the merest hint of attention from them, but I wasn’t in that category. We were friends of a sort, and I was, when it came to beautiful, intelligent, beguiling women like her, meek. So, it all seemed an insoluble mystery, a playfully torturous erotic/romantic enigma to me. On top of this disconcerting answerability (as a former actor you’ll have to forgive my penchant for drama), transforming it from something other came the Feeling, the vertigoesque sensation as if reality were warping around me. That inexplicable something about her but somehow not, the something that made no sense but was nevertheless there. More and more I felt that things were coming to a climax. On the mundane level, things between us were becoming too confusing to me and I had to do something. But on the other, the seemingly impossible, I felt as if I was teetering on the edge of revelation. As if, and prepare to laugh, the base metal of my understanding was about to be alchemized into Gold. See, it seemed as ridiculous to me, then, as it does to you, now. Soon, I discovered that it was not. Revelation was on its way but first I was going to be really uncomfortable.

What happened to make me feel so wholly overwhelmed? What occurred before I finally went through the looking glass? What transpired before I experienced what I might describe – pompously, portentously, but, believe me, accurately – as Revelation?! Um, well, all of these questions are so much stalling, so, I’ll tell you; though the telling causes me – even now – to feel thrust back into those situations, my head awhirl, my face flushed suffused with blood, my chest tight, and esophagus squeezed.

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Okay, okay, this is what happened… The Triumvirate’s workload had increased due to a number of impressive successes and although the agency obviously had quite a few very young, hungry minions to help out -and I, only in my early thirties, must have looked like an ancient obstacle to some of them – Carey, Fernell, and Grace Mark were bringing in a second executive assistant to join me. This meant, theoretically, that I would have to spend less time with Grace Mark as the newbie would take up some of the slack and fulfill some of my old role as my responsibilities both expanded and became more specific. It’s at this moment that I have to add the fateful phrase “Or, so I thought”.

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I was with Clayton Fernell in his new corner office, the décor reflecting his idiosyncratic personality with a lot of wood and dark colors in contrast to the glass, metal, and muted tones that predominated in rest of the building. Clutter versus a relative Spartan look.  Fernell had just been regaling me with a hilarious if unrepeatable story about Kyle Grenier, the “A-list” star beloved by millions, famed for his chummy demeanor, and polished handsomeness yet known behind the veil for his incredible arrogance, daunting collection of elevator shoes, and his sundry depravities (it was said he could only get it up if a prospective lover was prepared to repeat dialogue from his movies during sex…but I’m not one for gossip!).
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Then there was this from Clayton, “I’m not supposed to be telling you this yet, by the way. But… I figured what the f—! It seems a little churlish not to let you in on it, and as my sainted and wise (or that’s how she says I should refer to her – hah!) wife, Sally, says, “At our age we don’t have time for absurd codes of behavior”, so there it is. You’re going to be working closely with us individually. And here’s the kicker, once Hana or whoever settles in, you’re going to be working with Gracie – don’t tell her I called her that – for a month or so on a new package deal we’ve been discussing with Pinnacle. Now, what say you, Young Master David?”

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To say I was in two minds would be an understatement, I felt like there two versions of me vibrating on different frequencies; one version delighted, excited, thrilled even; the other terrified, slick-palmed, lurching-stomached, with an unpleasant liquid feeling surging at the back of my throat. The job change was exciting if nervous-making but it was the thought of working ever-more in-depth with Grace Mark that was really giving me pause. Truth be told, I was both inwardly sighing at this twist of fate, and, to my shame, rather contradictorily energized at the prospect. The notion that I had to do something to extricate myself from my ecstatic misery was still there but the other part of me wanted more ecstatic misery, whispering to me “forget the misery, El Schmucko, think of the ecstasy.” And then, there was the Feeling, something so disturbing yet somehow addictive. I had to follow this through, it meant something even though I didn’t know what, and despite the faint possibility that I was, as I’m sure Fernell would have elegantly phrased it, going F—ing Nuts. “Hello, Earth to David, are you receiving me over?” I surfaced from my reverie, registered Fernell’s question then answered.

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“Um. That all sound’s great Clay. I’m just a bit worried about the work with Ms. Mark.” After he’d finished the tale and we’d both finished laughing, Fernell’s face took on a comparatively serious mien as we launched into a discussion of the Triumvirate’s latest deal-making and my changed status. “So, David, how are you looking forward to the new era? With trepidation orrrr,” he paused, for comic effect, ”…TH-rilled expectation?”

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“A little of both, if you don’t mind me being honest…”

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“Not at all, BE honest, be honest. Part of the reason we signed you up was for that reason. What’s up?”

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“Nothing really. It’s just I’m not altogether clear how things are going to change.”

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“Well, hmmm, the new exec assist who, you might like to know, will likely be Hana Koblish – though Carey’s pushing for either Bryce Mendenhall or Miguel Santos. Christ knows why in Mendenhall’s case; the kid’s not so much Harvard as Stepford!” Fernell rocked backward and forward with laughter at this, and I couldn’t repress a grin. I’d met Mendenhall briefly and he had impressed as being a slightly more lifelike version of one of the animatronic models at Disneyland or perhaps a store window mannequin brought to life by dastardly occult means “A-aha! No, where was I? Eh. Oh yeah. The new assistant, WHOMSOEVER he or she ends up *being*, will do some of the scut work for the three of
us, and because she – or he – will have had legal training they’ll also have the incredibly boring task of going through reams of legal bullshit and see if we’ve missed anything. Sound good, so far?”

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I allowed that it did, and waited for him to continue. “That means that you’ll be working more closely with the three of us. In fact, you’ll be collaborating with us to develop and strengthen some of extant deals and relationships; we’d like you to sit in on our discussions permanent-like, Davester,” He smiled slyly at the nickname that he employed when particularly tickled – although, obviously, my name isn’t David, so this is an analog of the real nickname – before continuing on his verbose way.

“You know, I’ve noticed you tend not to call Grace, Grace, it’s usually Ms. Mark or a mumble. Oh, and, when you do call her Grace you get this funny, bashful school boyish expression on your face.” He gave me a roguish wink, then resumed speaking wagging his eyebrows Groucho Marxishly to underline his next witticism. “Man, she’s the English one! What’s amatter? Do you looove her, young Mr. David?” Before I could blushingly and fake-jokingly deny everything, Fernell lifted his hands placatingly while his sizeable stomach shook with satisfaction at what must have seemed to him a devastatingly hilarious and unlikely joke. As you might imagine, I wished that I could sink through the floor and vanish, like a ghost, or a character from one of the superhero movies that the agency’s clients seemed either to be producing or appearing in lately.

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Despite the urge I felt to leave Fernell’s office and hide away in my own considerably smaller yet more than adequately comfortable den, I remained talking about the “new challenges” and striving, pretty cravenly, to offer up some plausible reason why I really shouldn’t be first choice to aid Grace Mark. Unfortunately Fernell felt wise to what he thought were my motives. That is, he’d caught that I was a little wary of my increased responsibilities, and had apparently determined that this bout of inferiority was the reason behind my recalcitrance, which led to him bombarding me with bonhomie, a reassurance like a kindly if faintly disreputable and frequently foul-mouthed uncle. Which settled my hash, really. I couldn’t tell him that working with Grace Mark made me feel as if I had my heart and other parts in a vice without looking like an adolescent or a loon, nor could I pretend to be less confident in my work than I was without talking my way out of a job. Ashamed as I am to say it, one creative profanity sprang to mind: “Fuck-a-doodle-do” It seemed time with Fernell had rubbed off on me.

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© George Kaplan for Vickie Lester and Beguiling Hollywood, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to George Kaplan for Vickie Lester and Beguiling Hollywood with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

21 Comments »

  1. I intend to read and enjoy every word of this delicious story. Lily is arriving soon, from canada. My birthday is tomorrow and I’m racing around making preparations. I will return!! I promise!! As they would say in Boston, I’m wicked busy. That’s me. 🙂
    xoxoxo!!!
    Lisa

  2. I just read part three while sitting in the airport terminal. Wow! This is really fantastic, George!! I’m loving it. I’ve said it before, and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’ll say it again. You have a major gift. You’re one helluva writer. I can’t believe that I’m lucky enough to be reading your fiction on wordpress!! And I know and love the author, to boot!! Just like Vickie. What a thrill this is.
    Looking forward to more David and Grace. 😉
    Lisa xoxo

    • Lisa, what a wonderful, wonderful thing for you to say! I am honored to know you too. Such kind and lovely words. 🙂
      xox George K

  3. I must mention, Ms Vickie, that “worshiping cheese” may well be the most fantastic tag ever. Truly, you are a Genius of Tagging!

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